Oh well, so much for my grand Derby plans. Eskendereya is out, and there goes the generous subsidy his presence as a dubious heavy favorite would have generated for the rest of the field. Sure, there will still be value to be found, but it will take a lot more effort to find it now.
Todd Pletcher seemed to be calm in delivering the news, and owner Ahmed Zayat might be numb from all the bad news he's gotten this year.
"The left leg is filled from the ankle up to the knee," Pletcher said. "We've got to get the edema out of there to get a proper diagnosis. He's not uncomfortable. But when we took him out of his stall this morning and jogged him on the asphalt, he was what for me I would call 'slightly off.'" [DRF]Can't help but think that along with the disappointment, deep down the Toddster may feel a sense of relief. After all, the pressure that any trainer would feel by virtue of having the Derby favorite must have been intensified some 24-fold given all of the media attention on his 0-fer Derby record. Really, it's not like he needs a Derby win to prove himself. So just maybe he won't be gripping the saddle quite as tightly when he's saddling up his other five or six runners, none of whom will be carrying nearly the expectations that Eskendereya would have......though, in my opinion, a couple of them will have an excellent chance of breaking his streak. I'll get to those later in the week.
By the way, the Form's clocker, Mike Welsch, was noticeably wishy-washy in his assessments of the horse all week long.
Besides turning the race into a wide-open betting affair (at least for those who didn't think it was one all along), the defection enhances the chance that we will have a filly in the race, as Pletcher told Joe Drape.
Devil May Care has posted three victories in five starts and has been working out superbly at Churchill Downs. She is owned by John Greathouse of Glencrest Farm and was among the favorites to win the Kentucky Oaks, which will be run on Friday.
“He was impressed with her just like we were,” said Pletcher on Saturday morning, after Devil May Care zipped through a five-furlong workout in 1.00.20. “He said he’d be coming back Monday and we’d talk then about whether she might go in the Oaks or the Derby.” [NY Times]